Trump claims he has an "absolute right" to declare a national emergency over wall funding.
He told reporters yesterday, “My threshold will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are unreasonable.” In other words, if Congress won’t agree to give him $5.7 billion for a border wall, he might declare a national state of emergency.
What does that even mean?
Presidents have the power to act on their own when the nation is facing an urgent national crisis. It’s nothing new, and it’s really not all that uncommon (George W. Bush declared 13 emergencies, and Obama declared 12). Trump thinks he can use this power to give himself funds for a border wall.
Can he seriously do that?
Legal experts aren’t so sure he has the authority. It’s not clear what would actually happen if he tried it, but it would more than likely come down to a court fight.
What’s the big emergency?
There isn’t one. The “border crisis” Trump keeps talking about is made up. In fact, counties along the U.S.-Mexico border are safer than the rest of the country. The only real crisis at the border is the “intense human suffering and desperation” caused by his administration’s immigration policies.
How else could this all end?
Congress could reach a compromise and try to convince Trump to get on board. Democrats have proposed a plan to push off the fight over border security and fund the rest of the government in the meantime. Senate Republicans are feeling a lot of pressure right now, and a handful of them are already saying they “could live” with that plan.
A little good news: the USDA found a loophole to make sure everyone will continue receiving food stamp benefits as scheduled in February, despite the shutdown.
Say goodbye to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
|He’s planning to step down as soon as two things happen: (1.) Robert Mueller’s investigation wraps up, and (2.) William Barr, Trump’s pick for attorney general, is sworn in. Rosenstein has played a key role in protecting the Mueller investigation, so this news could be a sign that Mueller’s report is just about ready.
Trump threatens to stop sending wildfire relief to California.
|Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump tweeted that he’s ordered FEMA to cut off aid to the state “unless they get their act together.” This threat could affect families relying on FEMA assistance to find temporary housing after one of the most destructive wildfire seasons on record. California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom (D), quickly responded by saying that “disasters and recovery are no time for politics.”
Defense Secretary Mike Pompeo makes a surprise visit to Iraq.
Pompeo made an unannounced stop in Baghdad to reassure U.S. allies in the region after Trump’s surprise decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. He’s also there to smooth things over with Iraqi officials, who are pretty upset Trump didn’t meet with any of them during his trip to Iraq over the holidays.
Wait, are U.S. troops still being pulled from Syria?
Definitely maybe. After declaring that the U.S. had “defeated ISIS in Syria” and giving a timeline of 30 days to withdraw all 2,000 troops, Trump is now saying “we won’t be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone.”
The U.S. cancer death rate has been on the decline for 25 years in a row.
Colorado swears in the country's first openly gay male governor.
Gamblers won $276,424 betting on the number of lies Trump told during his Oval Office address.
|The over/under on Bookmaker.eu was 3.5 lies, which Trump nearly doubled by the end of the speech. An odds consultant for the site told Buzzfeed, “It’s a bad day for Truthiness and Bookmaker.”
These teenage girls saw people experiencing homelessness in their community. Here's what they invented to help.
|by Reed Redmond
For years, high schooler Daniela Orozco walked past a growing homeless population on her way to school. She and her classmates wanted to do something about it, but money was not an option. As Daniela tells Mashable, “Because we come from low-income families ourselves, we can’t give them money.”
So, they came up with another idea.
For the past year, Daniela and 11 other girls from her high school have been working six days a week to engineer a solar-powered tent. They’ve already made a prototype, and it’s seriously cool; it features USB ports and button-powered lights, and it can fold up into a rollaway backpack.
In June, the girls will present their invention at a young inventors conference hosted by MIT. After that, they have hopes of mass-producing the tents so their invention can reach as many people experiencing homelessness as possible.
They had some help from DIY Girls.
DIY Girls is a nonprofit on a mission “to increase girls’ interest and success in” STEM education. Daniela and the rest of her engineering team were recruited by DIY Girls, which helped them win a $10,000 grant for their invention.
Beto O’Rourke takes to the streets of El Paso to denounce Trump for “using fear and anecdote” in his immigration address. He live streamed himself walking around for about 75 minutes, speaking with neighbors and sharing views of the city.
Los Angeles teachers are going on strike for the first time in 30 years. They’re demanding more pay, smaller class sizes, and more counselors and nurses in schools.
3-D printed bones might help wounded veterans. A lab in Arizona received a $2 million grant to work on the technology.
A 2nd grader just won a $30,000 scholarship for her Google Doodle. She wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up, so she drew dinosaurs that spelled out “Google.”
The U.S. cheese surplus reaches a record high. Apparently, there’s a 900,000-cubic-yard stockpile of cheese sitting in cold storage.
The Feds are super late on their water bill. Probably won’t happen, but after 30 days, D.C. Water could justifiably decide to shut off the water at the White House.
$5 million of the Trump admin’s farm bailout program is going to a Brazilian-owned meatpacking company. Huh.